Tariff Assistance Package to Bring Relief to Farmers Suffering from Trade Disputes

Brian German Agri-Business

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a tariff assistance package to help the agricultural industry, as recent trade disputes and tariff increases have caused significant market disruption.  The relief package will use up to $12 billion on a three-pronged approach to address the negative impact of recent tariffs.Tariff Assistance Package

“The programs we’re announcing today are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agriculture producers to force the United States to cave in,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press conference.  “It’s important to note that this is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and all sectors of the American economy.”

One of the components of the plan includes a market facilitation program.  “That’s going to provide payments directly to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs,” said USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson.

The food purchase and distribution program will involve the purchasing of surplus agricultural commodities to be distributed through nutritional programs and food banks.  Johansson explained the commodities that will be included in the program are fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork, and milk.

The third portion of the tariff assistance package is the trade promotion program.  “We’re looking to extend and find new markets, develop new markets out there with the assistance of the private sector.  And that will not just be targeted to one commodity or another, it’s going to be essentially looking to build our markets globally and domestically,” said Johansson.

Several industry groups have issued statements in response to the tariff assistance package, primarily appreciative of the much-needed assistance. The emphasis for many continues to be a long-term solution to the trade disputes to allow export markets to be restored.  “We appreciate how USDA has worked to assemble this package quickly at a time of market uncertainty for farmers and ranchers,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said in press release. “Ultimately, farmers and ranchers want what we have always wanted: to trade on a fair basis with customers around the world who want to buy our products…We will continue to urge the administration and our congressional delegation to resolve the trade disputes as quickly as possible.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West